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Pages tagged "Health and Wellbeing"

Motion: Cigarette Waste

15 May 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:06): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that:

(a) of the 17.75 billion cigarettes estimated to be consumed in Australia each year, between 30 per cent to 75 per cent end up as litter;

(b) cigarette waste makes up to 14 per cent of total waste items found during Clean Up Australia Day;

(c) 34 per cent of total litter counted by KESAB is cigarette waste; and

(d) at the Conference of Parties (COP10) in February 2024, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has resolved to urge signatories to take action on the environmental impact of cigarette waste.

2. Acknowledges that littered cigarette butts:

(a) contain cellulose acetate and can take 15 years to break down in sea water;

(b) create plastic microfibres as they degrade; and

(c) contain over 7,000 chemicals and one butt can contaminate 40 litres of water.

3. Recognises that:

(a) Spain has introduced regulations to require tobacco companies to pay for the clean-up of cigarettes;

(b) San Francisco collects litter tax from retailers and charges tobacco companies for the cost of cleaning up; and

(c) the NSW Environment Protection Authority has initiated consultation on cigarette butts through introducing design standards to design out plastic tobacco filters.

4. Calls on the Malinauskas government to:

(a) take any possible action to ensure the tobacco industry is kept accountable for the waste they produce; and

(b) raise the matter with the national environment ministers at their next meeting.

This motion notes the huge amount of cigarette waste that is consumed in Australia each year. It notes the number of cigarettes that are consumed. People are not necessarily consuming the cigarette waste, although cigarettes are adverse to their health. This motion notes that of the 17.75 billion cigarettes estimated to be consumed in Australia each year, between 30 to 75 per cent of those end up as litter. Indeed, cigarette waste makes up 14 per cent of total waste items found during Clean Up Australia Day, and 34 per cent of total litter that is counted by KESAB is cigarette waste.

There have been efforts around the world to make cigarette companies responsible for the waste that they produce. Indeed, early last year I introduced a bill that would have set up a mechanism whereby these cigarette companies could be taken to task for the waste that they produce. In Spain, they have introduced regulations to require tobacco companies to do that. San Francisco now collects litter waste from retailers and charges tobacco companies for the cost associated with cleaning up, and the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority has initiated consultation on cigarette butts through introducing design standards to design out plastic tobacco filters.

This is calling on the Malinauskas government to take any action possible to ensure the tobacco industry is kept accountable for the waste they produce and, critically, to raise the matter with the national environment ministers at their next meeting to see if there can be a national coordinated approach to this issue.

Cigarette butt waste is terrible for our environment. Some interesting statistics for you: cigarette butts contain over 7,000 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, lead and nicotine. When these butts are littered, they leach these harmful substances into our waterways and soils. It is estimated that each cigarette butt can contaminate up to 40 litres of water. Water in South Australia, as we all know too well, is a precious resource, and it is not acceptable for that level of pollution to be in what little we have.

Beyond the leaching of chemicals, cigarette butts are also slow to degrade in the environment, and they release microplastics; that is, tiny plastic fibres that are almost impossible to remove once they are dispersed. These microplastics are ingested by our marine life, they work their way up the food chain, and they expose humans also to these harmful effects.

Cigarettes are not just terrible for community health. I know the Hon. Frank Pangallo is passionate about that issue and is raising that with some law reform ideas, and I am certainly very interested to learn more about that. As well as cracking down on the impact of cigarettes on community health, we also need to look at what we can do to make these big companies responsible for the terrible effect they have on the environment.

Just two years ago, The Guardian reported that microplastics had been found in human blood for the first time, with almost 80 per cent of people tested showing that microplastics were present. I find that startling. There are concerns that microplastics can lodge in human organs and other body systems, and we do not yet fully understand the health implications of that.

The environmental impact of cigarette waste is a problem that is only getting worse. However, as I indicated in my introductory remarks, some jurisdictions around the world are taking action. In Spain, regulations have now been developed that require cigarette companies to pay for the clean-up of the litter, and in San Francisco retailers are charging what is known as a litter tax, with the proceeds going towards the cost of collecting and disposing of cigarette waste. Here in Australia action is being taken on this in New South Wales.

We in the Greens would like to see the Malinauskas government follow the lead of these other jurisdictions and take action on this to ensure that we hold the feet of these big tobacco companies to the fire to ensure they take responsibility for the waste they produce.


Motion: Ambulance Ramping

15 May 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:56): I move:

That this council—

  1. Notes with concern that the number of hours patients spent ramped in ambulances, awaiting transfer to hospital emergency departments, has risen from 328 per month in July 2017 to 4,095 per month in March 2024.
  2. Notes with concern that South Australians are struggling to access a GP, with only 11 per cent of GP clinics offering bulk-billing in regular business hours.
  3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to tackle the ramping crisis by:

(a) fully subsidising 200 new free GPs for people with a health care card;

(b) establishing special 'transit wards' at major Adelaide hospitals to expedite ambulance patient transfers;

(c) establishing a statewide bed manager to oversee all patient transfers and ensure prearranged bed availability for admitted patients and avoiding ramping of interhospital transfers going to an ED; and

(d) establishing rapid off-load procedures for transferring patient care within 30 minutes of arrival at emergency departments.

This motion notes with concern the number of hours that patients are spending ramping in ambulances waiting for transfer to hospital emergency departments. It also notes the concerns of South Australians in terms of being able to access a GP—at the moment in our state only 11 per cent of GP clinics offer bulk-billing in regular business hours—and it calls on the Malinauskas government to tackle the ramping crisis by implementing the recommendations of the Ambulance Employees Association but also fully subsidising 200 new free GPs for people who have a health care card.

The ramping crisis continues in our state. We have heard both sides of politics battle it out for years now. What people want are solutions that can actually be implemented. We know, of course, that the Malinauskas government, as part of their election pledge, made a commitment to fix the ramping crisis. We know that there are no easy solutions, but I would have thought the best starting point is to listen to the recommendations of the Ambulance Employees Association.

The number of hours patients have spent ramped in ambulances awaiting transfer to our hospital emergency departments has risen from 328 hours per month in 2017 to a colossal 4,095 hours per month in March. That is a slight decrease from the record high of 4,285 lost hours in November of last year, so it is nothing to celebrate. It is out of control.

What this tells us is that there are system wide issues that go beyond politics and who is in charge, because the reality is that neither Labor nor the Liberal Party have been able to get this under control. The crisis has reached a critical tipping point, and we need to look at all options. We need to look at what we can do to improve our healthcare system—that is, reduce the need for people to seek emergency support but also to improve the processes that are undertaken when dealing with emergency situations.

The ramping crisis in South Australia is compounded by the reality that people in our state are continuing to struggle to access even the most basic primary care services. According to the Cleanbill 2024 Blue Report, only 11 per cent of South Australian GP clinics are bulk-billing for standard consultations during regular weekly business hours. The same report shows that the average out-of-pocket cost has increased by 7.2 per cent in South Australia over the last 12 months. I am concerned that that is going to increase further as a result of the end of the amnesty period for payroll tax and that is why the Greens were pleased to work with the Hon. Connie Bonaros to pass a motion calling on the government to remedy that.

This could be addressed also by subsidising 200 new GP positions specifically designated for people who have a health care card. This investment will ensure equal access to quality primary care and will provide the first line of defence against further strain on our emergency departments.

No South Australian should be forced to forgo seeing a doctor due to their financial circumstances. It is a right of every citizen in our community to be able to access the health care that they need. In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, we need to ensure people can access the fundamental human right of affordable health care. This is not the United States where people are priced out of going to see a doctor. It is not how we do things here in Australia. It is not how we do things here in South Australia.

In April last year, the Ambulance Employees' Association issued a media release that outlined some key solutions to the ramping crisis. These are not new ideas. The AEA has stated that these proposals were sent to all political parties ahead of the 2022 election. Two years on, we still have not seen these recommendations being implemented.

The first suggestion is to establish transit wards at our major hospitals across the Adelaide metropolitan area. These dedicated wards would serve the crucial function of expediting the transfer of patients who need to be moved from an ambulance or discharged. According to the AEA, currently in most metropolitan hospitals in Adelaide when a patient is ready to be discharged and requires ambulance transport, e.g. to a RACF or to a disability facility, they remain in their ward awaiting a transfer ambulance to arrive. As this is not an urgent ambulance attendance, these transfers can be significantly delayed for many hours. During this time, the bed is unable to be utilised by a patient awaiting admission from the ED.

Further delays occur when an ambulance arrives and the patient is not ready to be discharged, despite being booked in by the hospital in advance. Delays of medication dispensation by pharmacy or discharge paperwork yet to be completed could all contribute to delays in the patient's discharge, leading to the ward bed remaining occupied and not being able to receive the next patient. That is the advice of the AEA. It is not me saying it. These are the experts who work in this field. Transit wards could alleviate the current strain on beds, ambulances and emergency departments by ensuring that there is a more efficient system in place.

Secondly, a statewide bed manager could be established to oversee all patient transfers and guarantee that hospital beds are available and ready at the time of transfer. A centralised and coordinated approach is required to address the occurrence where transfers arrive at hospitals without a bed being available on the ward. A statewide bed manager could coordinate the available beds to ensure that people can be transferred directly to the relevant ward or unit rather than clogging up emergency departments and potentially duplicating diagnostics.

Lastly, we need to implement rapid off-load procedures to transfer patient care from ambulance to hospital staff within a maximum of 30 minutes of arrival at the emergency department. The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine position statement on ambulance ramping has stated that:

Within 30 minutes of arriving at an ED, 100 per cent of patients should have their handover completed.

The AEA have stated that:

Current policies and procedures within SA Health are demonstrably inadequate at mitigating this practice.

They advocate that rapid off-load procedures could free up ambulance availability and would also improve patient safety.

We have clear guidance from people on the frontline of this crisis. These are reforms that are proposed by the AEA. They are supported by the Greens. They are the ones who are witnessing the impacts of this ramping crisis firsthand. They know the solutions. This really calls on the Malinauskas government to listen to the experts and to take the steps necessary to get this crisis under control.

I know people will ask, 'How could the government fund this?' Well, budgets—and we will have a state budget handed down very soon—are about priorities. This Labor government gives over $100 million of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, an industry which we know promotes adverse health outcomes for our community. They could cut those subsidies and put that money into our health system. Indeed, the Greens have done the math, and we have worked out that cutting those subsidies would be more than enough to fund what is being advocated for by the AEA, as well as hiring these 200 GPs to provide support for South Australians who are doing it tough.

The Malinauskas government has been in power for two years now. They need to step up and get this health crisis under control, and listen to the experts in this field. I will say, it is not just the fault of the Malinauskas government, albeit the Labor Party has been in power for 18 of the last 30 years in this state. They must shoulder a lion's share of the blame, but neither side of politics has been able to get this crisis under control. I think the community is sick of the bickering, and they actually want to see some real solutions here.


Question: Junk Food Advertising

15 May 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:04): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Health on the topic of junk food advertising.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In a study by the Cancer Council, it was revealed that of the 253 advertisements related to food or drink on public transport assets within 500 metres of schools, almost 80 per cent were promoting junk food. Last year, I introduced a bill to restrict junk food advertising on public assets, public transport and within 500 metres of schools.

In February, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that high exposure to ultra processed food is associated with an increased risk of 32 health outcomes, including cancer. While the government opposed the bill, they did indicate, back on 14 September last year, that they would establish a working group to consider banning junk food advertising on public transport infrastructure. My question to the minister representing the Minister for Health therefore is: what is the status of that working group, when has it convened, and what action is the government taking on this issue?

 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:05): I thank the honourable member for his question and I will be sure to pass that on to the minister in another place and bring back a reply for him.


Motion: General Practitioner Payroll Tax

20 March 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:40): I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that:

(a) the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners South Australia (RACGP SA) has launched a campaign for the state government to stop applying payroll tax to general practitioners; and

(b) South Australia is in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and many people are already struggling to cover the costs of essentials like medical appointments.

2. Notes that:

(a) the patient engagement platform HotDoc has released figures that show that 95 per cent of clinics are planning to increase patient fees by an average of $12 per appointment in response to the payroll tax and only 28 per cent of patients would continue to see their regular GP (albeit less regularly), if fees increased; and

(b) the Queensland government has provided a payroll tax ruling clarifying that patients' fees paid directly to a GP for their services would not be subject to payroll tax.

3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to align with the Queensland government's approach to rule out payroll tax on patients' fees paid directly to GPs for their services.

This is a really important issue for this parliament to deal with. I note that the Hon. Connie Bonaros advanced a motion on a similar topic and I certainly share the concerns that she has expressed, but this motion from the Greens goes a little bit further than that because we are not just calling for an amnesty, we are calling for the Labor government to go a step further and that is actually rule out applying this payroll tax to GP services.

Queensland has done that. They have actually provided a payroll tax ruling that clarifies that patients' fees that are paid directly to a GP for their services would not be subject to a payroll tax. Well, the patients and medical practitioners of our state do not simply need an amnesty—in effect, a stay of execution—what they need is certainty going forward and for this money grab to be ruled out.

I understand that the state Labor government are in a difficult financial position. I understand that and that is through no fault of the government. We know of course the significant costs that have been associated with managing COVID, not just here in our own state but right across the country. But budgets are about choices and this government does not have to go down the path of slugging medical practitioners, and slugging, by extension, patients with increased fees. There are lots of other alternatives.

The Greens have referenced previously work of the Australia Institute, which finds that there was about $150 million that is going to fossil fuel companies in subsidies, direct money from the state government. That money could be put into our health system to deal with the crisis that we are facing. That would be an appropriate course of action, rather than a money grab that is going to cause vulnerable South Australians to be paying more to go to see a doctor. That is not something we want to see.

The Greens certainly support the campaign of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for the government to stop applying payroll tax to the work of general practitioners, indeed all healthcare professionals. We are concerned that going to the dentist could also become more expensive in South Australia should this medical tax get the green light from the Malinauskas government.

I want to reference some of the work of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). They claim that the payroll tax for GPs would result in higher fees for patients, reductions in bulk billing or more GPs leaving the workforce. That, of course, would not be a good outcome for patients or the medical profession in general. We look at that with the backdrop of the ramping crisis that is getting worse and worse in this state.

Some might say, 'Do not trust politicians when they talk about dealing with these matters.' I will not repeat the phrase, but some say, 'That is all BS'. The reality is that people do rely on parliaments to deal with these sorts of matters. People do rely on governments to solve these sorts of matters and they do not expect budget black holes to be plugged by the sick in our community.

Out-of-pocket costs for medical services are rising and South Australians are unable to afford basic health care and the Greens believe, of course, that everybody is entitled to that. Last year, a Productivity Commission report showed that there was a 50 per cent increase in Australians who delayed or avoided seeing their doctor because they could not afford it. That was up by 2.4 per cent of people to 3.5 per cent. At the same time, GPs are increasingly being forced to stop bulk billing to ensure they can afford to stay afloat.

That same report also revealed there are approximately three million avoidable presentations to public hospital emergency departments that could have been handled by a GP. The reality is that if we do not fund GPs appropriately, if we do not invest in preventative care, you are going to see more people presenting in emergency and we know that our hospital system is already struggling to cope.

As we face both a cost-of-living crisis and an emergency health system at full capacity, we need to be looking at what we can do to relieve the pressure, not just compound it. In June last year, the Treasurer issued an amnesty on payroll tax to tenant GPs to 30 June of this year. This came after the Supreme Court of New South Wales Court of Appeal found that tenant GPs who pay a percentage of their earnings to a clinic rather than being paid a wage count as employees for payroll tax purposes.

The decision by the New South Wales court caught practices by surprise and according to the RACGP gave them no choice but to raise patient fees. The state government amnesty was welcomed by the RACGP to give them time to work through the implications for tenant GPs.

It is my understanding that it is not just general practitioners who fall into this category. Yesterday, a dentist contacted my office and reported that dental and psychology practices are also potentially impacted by this ruling, so the Greens call on the government to rule out applying this new tax not just to GPs but also to medical practitioners. It is important that we consider the impact that this could have on our health system in the middle of this health crisis.

Data from HotDoc reveals that 95 per cent of clinics are planning to increase patient fees by 12 per cent in response to this payroll tax. That is a terrible outcome for patients who are already feeling the pinch. Research from The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has shown that 48 per cent of patients would move to a different GP if they stopped bulk billing. Any sensible person would look at this and realise that this will end up with bulk billing facilities being overrun and being more burdened than they are at present. It will also result in patients either delaying their health care or forking out money they cannot afford to pay for the services they need.

On 21 February this year, the Queensland government issued its own ruling that patient fees paid directly to a GP for their services will not be subject to a payroll tax. The Queensland ruling applies to medical centres where medical practitioners are conducting business or providing medical services and I note that this would capture dentistry, psychology and other medical services in addition to GPs.

This motion aims to put into action the calls from the RACGP for the Malinauskas government to match Queensland to exempt medical practitioners from payroll tax both to support healthcare professionals and to also ensure patients are not being slogged for extra fees in the middle of this cost-of-living crisis.

This is a government that was elected on a platform of fixing our health system. Well, you cannot fix our health system if you price South Australians out of getting in to see a GP. You cannot fix our health system and you cannot get ramping under control if you make it more difficult to get in to see a doctor, dentist or psychologist.

All of these things are fundamental to our health system, and we cannot see South Australians being priced out of getting the care that they need. So I really urge the Malinauskas government not just to extend the amnesty but to actually rule it out, knock the nail on the head and bring this matter to a close so that there is certainty for our medical professionals and certainty for vulnerable people in our community: the sick who need the support of those professionals.


Question: Equality in the Regions

14 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:10): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of LGBTIQ equality in the regions.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In 2016 and 2017, the government of Victoria began a roadshow in rural and regional areas in their state as part of their LGBTIQ Equality Rural and Regional Program. The program is focused on, and I quote from the government of Victoria website:

…improving mental health outcomes, boosting population retention and economic inclusion, building capacity for communities to empower themselves, developing lasting networks between LGBTI communities, services providers and government agencies and improving broader community support for inclusion and identity.

The government of Victoria advises that the:

…roadshow visited more than 29 towns…engaging with local LGBTIQ+ communities, allies, business leaders, representatives of local service providers and local government.

An evaluation of the program found it had a positive impact on LGBTI people in regional Victoria with, and I quote from the website, 'LGBTI people reporting greater acceptance and displays of support in their communities.'

The government of Victoria is now developing a Rainbow Ready road map to respond to the needs of LGBTI people in the regions who were identified during the roadshow. My question to the minister therefore is: does she have plans to hold a similar roadshow to engage with LGBTI people in regional South Australia and, if not why not?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am not aware of any government proposals to have such a roadshow. Certainly, as a government we have done a wide range of measures in terms of increasing the opportunities for communication and collaboration with various groups within the community. I am happy to check with the Minister for Human Services in the other place to see if there are any such plans.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:12): Supplementary: will the minister consider the idea of a roadshow herself and, in particular, will she consider developing an LGBTIQ equality rural and regional program like her Victorian counterparts?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:13): Such a roadshow or policy or strategy would fall within the remit of the Minister for Human Services in the other place. She has certainly been very open to giving particular consideration to the needs of the community who are located in regional areas, for which I commend her. I will ask whether she has considered such a proposal to which the honourable member refers.

 

23 January 2024

In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14 November 2023).

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Human Services has advised:

The Equality Project, a national LGBTIQA+ organisation, is currently conducting interviews with LGBTIQA+ South Australians with a goal of understanding people's experiences, connections to community, and identifying possible changes to better support LGBTIQA+ people. This project, which is funded by the Fay Fuller Foundation, has a particular focus on engaging with LGBTIQA+ people in regional South Australia.

The LGBTIQA+ Minister's Advisory Council recently had an update on the findings from the peer-to-peer interviews conducted to date as part of this initiative, including the unique needs emerging from LGBTIQA+ people living in regional and rural South Australia.

The findings of this project will be used to inform a potential roadshow like the ones that have occurred in Victoria and future actions the government can take to better support LGBTIQA+ people in regional South Australia.


Social Development Committee: Inquiry into the National Disability Insurance Scheme Report

1 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (19:46): I rise to speak on the report of the Social Development Committee on its inquiry into the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on South Australians living with disability who have complex needs and are, or are at risk of, residing for long periods in inappropriate accommodation.

I mean no disrespect to the committee or members of the community who have a significant interest in this proposal when I indicate that my remarks will be very brief, simply in recognition of the lateness of the hour. It was a privilege to participate in the inquiry as a member of the Social Development Committee, along with the Hon. Ian Hunter, who is the Chair of the committee and obviously a member of this place.

The committee looked into a range of important matters. Its terms of reference included the ability to access and navigate the requirements of the NDIS; the timeliness of approval for appropriate specialist disability supports, including home and living decisions through the NDIS and the processes that may lead to delays; the adequacy of funding in the NDIS plans to fund the supports required; the ability of the NDIS workforce and market, including the specialist disability accommodation policy settings and the market in South Australia and the role that it plays in delivering necessary accommodation and funded supports; the impact on the wellbeing of participants of these inappropriate accommodation arrangements; any negative impacts on state government services; and any other related matters.

The committee has made a number of recommendations, and the Hon. Ian Hunter spoke to those in his remarks during the last parliamentary sitting. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the committee but also the secretariat for their work in pulling together the evidence, which was substantial, and crafting the recommendations, and all the people who took the time to appear before the committee and share their stories with us. Some of their stories were quite personal and at times it was an emotionally challenging committee to be on and to hear that evidence, but I know that all of us really appreciated hearing from people impacted by this area and hearing about their lived experiences.

It is my hope that the government will take action in relation to the recommendations. They are detailed. There is some really good work here that could be done by the government that I think would offer some real improvements for impacted South Australians. With that, I conclude my remarks.


Tissue Donation Statements Bill

28 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:35): The Greens are supportive of this bill. This bill allows the next of kin of a deceased person to request that a tissue donation statement be included on any certificate, issued under the act, certifying the death of a person. The Greens support granting formal recognition of a life-saving gift at the request of the family or next of kin of the deceased.

I want to commend the Hon. Nicola Centofanti for putting this issue on the agenda and for putting this bill forward. It is an important issue that she has highlighted, one that I think will impact many South Australian families, so we do appreciate her advocacy in this regard.

For someone who is seriously ill, an organ or a tissue transplant can mean the difference between life and death, being healthy or sick, seeing or being blind, or being active or never walking again. Transplants enable people to resume an active role in their family, their workplace and their community. Tissue donation includes bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas and heart valves and vessels.

While an organ donor can save up to seven lives, a tissue donor can impact the lives of as many as 75 people. Since 2013, more than 38,000 deceased and living tissue donations have been made. Unlike organs, many more people can become eye and tissue donors, as these can be donated following death outside of hospital and tissue can be stored for longer periods of time. Tissues for donation must be removed within 12 to 24 hours after a person dies, and the donor does not need to be maintained on a ventilator.

In 2022, there were 2,748 tissue donors, which is 17 per cent of deceased persons, and in 2021 there were 3,307. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on elective surgeries, including joint replacement surgery, resulting in a decrease in living tissue donations. I understand that eight out of 10 families give consent to donation when their family member is registered to be a donor, but this number drops to just four out of 10 families when the family is unaware that the deceased person had that wish. The decision to donate a loved one's organs and tissues will be a difficult one for many families to make, especially at a time of great loss. The generosity of those families ought to be acknowledged and commended.

I hope that this is one of those instances where we see this house rise above politics and see all sides of this chamber support it. I cannot imagine why there would not be universal support for such a sensible proposition. With that, I commend the bill.


Industrial Manslaughter Bill passes the Upper House

14 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to use this opportunity to make a few general remarks about this bill because I have not yet spoken on industrial manslaughter during my time in this parliament. I regard and the Greens regard this as being a really good day for the people of South Australia because finally it appears that this reform, which is long overdue, will pass our state's upper house. It is a reflection, I think, of what this parliament does best—that is, listening to the concerns of the community, responding to their concerns and making laws that are going to change people's lives for the better and that are going to help people. That is fundamentally why we are all here in politics.

I reiterate the comments made by the Attorney-General; that is, good businesses, good employers, those who are doing the right thing by their workers, have absolutely nothing to fear from this reform. This is a positive step that is being taken for workers in our state. I acknowledge the long-term advocacy of the union movement and their passionate advocacy over many years. I know that the Greens have been proud to stand with them in this campaign over many years.

I pay tribute to the work of my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks for her leadership on this issue over the last 10 years or so. As noted by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Tammy Franks introduced private member's bills on this topic back in October 2010, in May 2015, on 1 May 2019, on 23 September 2020 and on 4 May 2022, so it has now been 13 years since the Hon. Tammy Franks first introduced a private member's bill to address this issue. Indeed, it was Tammy's bill in 2015 that led to an inquiry into the occupational safety rehabilitation and compensation scheme to allow cross-party development of a consensus position.

Might I say that this was a policy commitment that the Greens took to the last state election and that the Labor Party took to the last state election and, I understand, that the SA-Best political party also took to the last state election. There is clearly a mandate from the people of South Australia to see this change made. I understand that some members are seeking to mount the argument that there has not been enough consultation or there has not been enough of an opportunity to consider amendments and the like. I do not accept that. There has been considerable consultation about this reform. There has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue.

So I do think it is a bit rich for the opposition to suggest, if they are going to, that we are not in a position to deal with this today. This was the party that waved through draconian anti-protest laws with the blink of an eye. In this case, there has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue over years and years, and it is clear that the people of South Australia want this done. I hope the parliament is going to do that today, and that will be a really good thing for the people of our state.


Restrictions on Junk Food Advertising

14 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (18:34): I am disappointed to hear that no parties in the parliament are supporting the bill. I had hoped that the government would announce that they would be looking into the issues around public transport and health. It does not appear that that has been considered either, so that is disappointing.

I think it is a missed opportunity for this parliament to deal with the issue. I find some of the arguments have been quite inconsistent. The view of the opposition seems to be, 'Well, this bill will have little effect so therefore it is better to do nothing.' That is disappointing. The Greens will continue to push this to ensure that there is better regulation of junk food advertising, particularly close to schools but also on our public infrastructure like our buses, our trains, their respective stops and on public buildings. With that, I conclude my remarks.


Motion: Asthma Week 2023

13 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:59): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that 1 to 7 September was Asthma Week, with the focus for 2023 being 'How Healthy is Your Home?'

2. Acknowledges that the report released by Asthma Australia in 2023, titled Homes, Health and Asthma in Australia, found that—

(a) many Australians are exposed to asthma triggers in their home including emissions from gas appliances, mould and pests such as dust mites;

(b) 50 per cent of Australians have had mould or dampness in their home in the last 12 months;

(c) 48 per cent of Australians use a gas cooktop even though cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of the childhood asthma burden; and

(d) one-quarter of Australians are not happy with, or are unsure about the air quality inside their homes.

3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to address the findings of the report by—

(a) banning gas connections to new homes;

(b) implementing minimum efficiency standards for rental homes;

(c) supporting people on low incomes to transition to efficient heating and cooking appliances; and

(d) developing education programs to support people in preventing pests and mould to improve asthma outcomes.

This motion notes that last week, 1 to 7 September, was Asthma Week, with a focus for 2023 being on 'How healthy is your home?'

The motion acknowledges that the report released by Asthma Australia in 2023, entitled Homes, Health and Asthma, found that many Australians are exposed to asthma triggers in their home, including emissions from gas appliances, mould and pests, such as dust mites. Fifty per cent of Australians have had mould or dampness in their home in the last 12 months. Forty-eight per cent of Australians use a gas cooktop, even though cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of the childhood asthma burden, and one-quarter of Australians are not happy or are unsure about the air quality inside their homes.

The motion calls on the government to take some action in relation to that. In particular, it calls on the Malinauskas government to ban gas connections to new homes. Members of this place will recall that I have a bill before this parliament that would ban gas connections from 2025. It is also calling on the government to implement minimum efficiency standards for rental homes, to support people on low incomes to transition to efficient heating and cooking appliances, and to develop educational programs to support people in preventing pests and mould to improve asthma outcomes.

In terms of a bit about asthma, it is a condition that impacts the lives of many South Australians. According to Asthma Australia, one in nine people in Australia have asthma, and South Australia has the highest rate in the country at 13 per cent. It is a condition that has no boundaries. It affects people of all ages and all walks of life. This year's theme, 'How healthy is your home?', invites us to focus on the relationship between the home and the communities in which we live and asthma. The air we breathe is essential to good health and wellbeing, and the recent report from Asthma Australia highlights that nexus between conditions in the home and health conditions like asthma.

This leads me to highlight some of the problems with gas. Research has shown a clear link between exposure to indoor gas emissions and an increased risk in vulnerable people, such as children and older people. Gas emissions are estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of all childhood asthma, and the presence of many gas appliances in homes is exacerbating the problem. Forty-eight per cent of Australians still have gas cooktops, and many people are unaware of the link between their cooking and asthma.

We need to take action to reduce the health costs of using gas in our homes, and banning gas connections is one clear way that we can do that. I do understand that a lot of people are concerned about the impact of transitioning away from gas and their home cooking habits. For a gourmet chef like myself, that is a big sacrifice.

The Hon. T.A. Franks: You are misleading the parliament.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The honourable member has pointed out I am misleading the parliament.

The PRESIDENT: Is that a point of order, the Hon. Ms Franks?

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am making a gag, because I am terrible cook, but I have heard from people who I understand to be good cooks that with the evolution of technology now it is actually possible to still cook effectively with electric, and you can have a lot more control over the new induction-style cooktops, so it is not a case of there being a choice between being able to have that element of control with gas versus electric, as used to be the case perhaps years ago. Technology has evolved. Instead of having gas connected to new properties, we need to be encouraging the adoption of electric cooktops that produce fewer indoor pollutants and are a cleaner and a safer alternative.

Asthma Australia reports also call for better energy efficiency and ventilation standards, and this is particularly important for renters who are disempowered in ensuring that the health of their home is being upheld. We know that renters are often in a situation where they are at the mercy of the landlord and, if they have a problem with asthma, they are often powerless to be able to get the landlord to take the steps necessary. Hopefully, that will be something the Malinauskas government will remedy when it finally brings its next tranche of reforms to this house for consideration.

By ensuring there are minimum standards for rental properties and social housing we can give those people more security that their home will not have adverse impacts on their health. People on low incomes also need to be given support to make a transition away from asthma triggers and be able to access more efficient heating and cooking appliances. That is one of the reasons the Greens have been calling for the government to follow the lead of other jurisdictions like the ACT and actually make subsidies available to support people to make that transition.

Access to affordable energy efficient options can improve indoor air while reducing energy costs. This support can come in the form of subsidies, incentives or community grant programs aimed at providing these vital upgrades for people in our community who need them most.

I should also reflect that the motion makes reference to the effect of mould and pests. The Asthma Australia report on healthy homes found that, in the last 12 months, 50 per cent of Australians have had damp or mould in their homes—50 per cent! We know of course that that is being impacted by climate change as well and the change of weather conditions, but 50 per cent have had damp or mould in their home and 70 per cent have had pests. The report identifies barriers to people addressing these contributing factors, such as the cost of eradication, the lack of autonomy over property and the lack of knowledge.

The Greens are calling on the Malinauskas government to undertake community education and support for people so they can assert their rights. By addressing these factors in the home that contribute to asthma we can make inroads into reducing the impact of asthma on South Australians, our health system and the whole community.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.